By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Burnout is often thought to be a personal problem, one that can be solved by yoga and learning to say ‘no’. While the self-help list to prevent burnout is quite long, there is now mounting evidence that applying self-help band-aid solutions to this evolving workplace phenomenon is only making it worse. 

The World Health Organization now recognizes ‘burnout’ officially as an occupational phenomenon, not a medical condition. With this, the onus of building a burnout strategy now rests entirely with the organization, not only on the individual.

But to create a burnout strategy, organizations have to tune in and turn towards their employees with greater empathy and first learn to recognize the signs of burnout. After all, prevention is always better than the cure. 

Burnout can manifest differently with different people. While certain markers can be generalized such as decreased productivity, lower quality of work, sometimes uncharacteristic disengagement can also signal employee burnout. 

Here are some of the signs that employee burnout is round the bend 

Downhill productivity

One of the biggest markers of burnout for all employees across the board is a productivity southward-moving productivity graph. Decreased productivity at work, missed deadlines, or increasing client complaints can be seen as laziness at work that might just need a swift kick in the pants. However, typically the issue runs deeper. 

In today’s work environment, employees are unduly stressed due to the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. The lines dividing work and life are blurring and most employees are still conflicted on identifying how to show that they are delivering value. Fears about professional progress worry every employee. The new employees can especially struggle to navigate the challenges of the new hybrid workplace with the dexterity of others. All these factors can lead employees to feel overwhelmed and stressed and manifest as burnout at work.

So, what’s the solution? Employees need greater clarity on work expectations and behaviors to overcome feelings of uncertainty. The organization has to respond to employee behaviors with more empathy so that employees can approach their managers without fear. They also can seek the help of peer coaches to navigate the challenges impeding productivity and causing them to feel overwhelmed and make sure that they address issues before they become bigger and lead to burnout.  

Obvious exhaustion

While employees will feel tired from time to time but when fatigue sets in and becomes obvious, it means that burnout is cooking on the stove. 

If you find your employees perennially tired and taking more sick leaves than usual, and worn-out expressions, moodiness, and irritability become visible emotions, then these are dead giveaway signs of burnout at work. Missing team spirit can also be a warning sign of employee burnout.

So, what’s the solution? Organizations need to help managers, team members, and leaders build their emotional quotient to identify signs of exhaustion that manifest physically and emotionally. This needs people to become more focused on driving mental health in the workplace, removing biases associated with exhaustion, and developing an environment where employees can reach out to peer coaches to help them with overwhelming situations.  

Low levels of engagement 

When employees, especially high-performing employees, stop taking an active interest in work, do not pay attention to the quality of work, and are sitting under a mountain of unfinished assignments and tasks it is time to pay heed. All is not well. 

All these attributes signal a lack of engagement that can lead to employee burnout. Organizations need to thereby have their identifiers in place to point out burnout before the smoldering embers become a raging fire. It is important to pay attention to the star performers and their behaviors since they are under more pressure to perform and retain their rock-star status in the hybrid work environment. 

So, what’s the solution? Engaging with high potential employees to identify their challenges proactively, roping them into the decision-making process, giving them more responsibilities or more challenging projects, or helping them become more visible by helping them develop better collaboration skills can contribute to greater engagement and consequently prevent burnout.  

Don’t ignore manager and leadership burnout 

While missed deadlines and pending assignments are signs of employee burnout at work, cynicism, criticism, and anger, dejection, and disinterest in managers show that burnout has dug in its claws there as well. 

Managers and leaders are the people who must inspire others, complement idealism with innovation, and be resilient in the face of challenges. When they find it challenging to inspire, remain future-focused, and do not find the enthusiasm to marry innovation with consistency, then there is a concern of burnout. Sudden withdrawal from conversations and a lack of interest in fostering work relationships can also signal burnout in managers and leaders.   These times are intensely challenging as managers can experience a lack of autonomy and agency. The feelings of lacking control, managing teams remotely, and being solely responsible for their teams’ performance and mental health can cause managers to feel overwhelmed as well. Additionally, the social conditioning and unconscious biases make them feel that talking about mental health in the workplace makes them weak, adding to burnout. 

So, what’s the solution? It is important to identify signs of stress and dysregulation amongst managers and leaders. Behaviors such as intolerance and angry outbursts, unreasonable deadlines for team members, unhappy team members, and lack of motivation in everyday activities indicate managers and leaders need to pay attention to their mental health at work and seek help on how to manage burnout. Peer coaching provides the avenue for managers and organizational leaders to discuss and address their challenges. It gives them a non-judgmental space to work out their difficulties and helps them identify ways to navigate issues that can impact their personal and professional well-being.

In Conclusion 

Organizations have to now focus on driving good mental health in the workplace by removing archaic biases that prevent employees from seeking help on how to manage burnout. It is essential to have the right mechanisms in place such as a strong peer coaching network that can help employees figure out that they are experiencing burnout and identify ways of how not to burn out at work. 

Peer coaches can provide immense support to new employees as well as established leaders. It can help them move ahead in their professional careers with peace of mind and resilience. A healthy peer coaching network helps in driving mental health in the workplace. It is an effective strategy to remove unconscious bias associated with help-seeking behaviors and increase empathy and emotional resilience. 

Connect with us to see how to design, plan and implement a peer coaching program powered by AI to identify and cull burnout in your organization today. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The threat because of which we retreated in haste, from office buildings to kitchen tables or home offices, at the onset of the pandemic, seems to be abating. Today people are gearing to return to work as the pandemic comes under control. However, the reactive stance that businesses assumed at the onset of the pandemic, no longer remains a valid strategy to design the hybrid workplace. 

As the world of work moves towards a hybrid avatar, seamlessly amalgamating work from home with on-premises, organizations are moving to create transformational strategies to ensure business success in the future. The future of work is now centered on how you work. Not where you do it from.

The hybrid workplace needs a transformational strategy – one that is intentional and purpose-driven. This strategy will remain incomplete if enterprises do not account for the impact of this world of work on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. 

The extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic threw greater light on the racial and societal inequities in our society. While enterprises were hiring and were greatly focused on diversity, the move to the hybrid workplace has shifted priorities. 

A recently concluded report on workplace culture and inclusion shows that 

  • Only 53% of employees rate their workplace diversity, equity, and inclusiveness culture as healthy. 
  • 58% feel that their organizations still have undefined diversity and inclusion goals. 
  • More than 67% feel that their organizational leaders need to do more to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion across the organization.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are playing a big role in enterprise transformation. A report from McKinsey highlights how diverse and more inclusive organizations are more profitable than those that are not. While diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are good for business, the time to do more than just pay lip service to these initiatives is now. 

Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion matter even more now

COVID-19 gave organizations a chance to evaluate and reconsider what workplaces should look like. Ushering in the Future of Work and driving the focus to build a hybrid workplace demands a technological transformation to ease the logistical nightmare. But the hybrid workplace also shows the promise of being a cultural facilitator. This is because the work environment becomes more boundary-less while bringing in geographically distant workers closer. 

Thus, to access a greater talent market and to support geographically dispersed teams, bringing strategic focus on designing relevant diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives becomes paramount. 

From Technological Hybridity to Cultural Hybridity

In the hybrid workplace, employing technological hybridity will be commonplace. New platforms, tools, and technologies will drive better workflows and processes. And just like this technological hybridity, it also demands a more intentional move to enable the coexistence of multiple individual identities. This becomes especially relevant in today’s context where employees desire a greater alignment of individual identities and the value system of the organization.

Organizations need to work intentionally towards creating an environment that fosters and encourages inclusion, and diversity and promotes equity. 

Leveling the playing field is essential

At present, most organizations are focused on managing the day-to-day challenges of managing remote and in-person teams. However, along with this, they must now focus on creating a playing field that is even and fair to all. And we cannot create an even playing field unless we address the unconscious biases that may be at work dividing in-person and remote employees and those coming from marginalized and underserved communities. 

Accounting for the need of all employees is mandatory

Diversity, inclusion, and equity are the key components that ensure that organizations function better and innovate faster. As the workplace becomes hybrid and relies more on technology, organizations need to reskill and adapt to the demands of digital transformation to help employees manage the climate of change. This reskilling and upskilling extend to power skills that drive collaboration and innovation while accounting for the needs of ‘all’ employees. 

Undoing unconscious bias is imperative for engagement 

The hybrid workplace will need to focus heavily on undoing unconscious biases and work towards becoming more inclusive to drive transformational organizational outcomes. A focused effort into diversity and inclusion unlocks new opportunities to accelerate reskilling and simultaneously nurturing a mindset of continuous learning. 

By becoming more intentional about their diversity, inclusion, and equity strategy, organizations ensure that they level the playing field and allow all employees equal opportunities. These moves drive better employee engagement as employees feel that the organization is invested in their growth. This also strengthens the organization’s ability to manage change and foster growth. With time, the organization becomes more inclusive and diverse. 

How Peer Coaching Can Help

Just like how technology is driving the workplace, technology can drive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as well. Moving towards a culture focused on continuous learning leveraging peer coaching can be a strategic starting point for the same. After all, with knowledge comes power. 

Peer coaching is an effective medium to change unconscious bias. That is because bias can only be removed by virtue of continuous and contextual interactions to drive behavioral change. Employing a technology-powered peer coaching platform can help employees identify their growth needs and address challenges that impede professional progress. 

The opportunity to access coaches to drive growth makes sure that the people in the D&I umbrella are not struggling to identify growth pathways, can easily navigate the organizational network, and build trust bridges across the organization.

The rules of engagement have to evolve in a hybrid workplace. We can no longer afford to take a cut-and-paste approach to important initiatives such as diversity, inclusion, and equity. Those organizations who take data-backed and technology-powered approaches for their initiatives will be more successful in their efforts simply because their efforts will be more structured, organized, contextual, and relevant to the workforce. 

Connect with us to see how we can supercharge your diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives with our AI-powered coaching platform. 

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

The future of work is hybrid, and it is now. 

As we move steadfastly into the hybrid work model, it becomes abundantly clear that this world of work will need new skills and approaches. In the post-pandemic world, organizations will have to re-evaluate the drivers of employee engagement and employee experience since the older drivers of engagement no longer remain valid. 

With the economy ahead promising to be unquestionably different, organizations have to now focus on upskilling initiatives to thrive in this new world order. New skills, processes, working mechanisms, systems of collaboration, team building, and new ways of thinking are the need of the hour. These cannot be addressed with a day-long training program. Developing these new skills to thrive in today’s complex work environment needs focused and continuous learning. Something that organizations can achieve with peer coaching. 

Read: Peer Coaching – The Critical Pillar to Drive Employee Experience and Engagement in Hybrid Workplaces

But how can organizations create a peer coaching culture?

Develop an army of peer coaches

To create a peer coaching culture an organization needs peer coaches. Looking at the employee base and identifying the natural coaches in their midst is the first step. However, often people themselves are unaware of their coaching capabilities. Helping people identify their inherent coaching capabilities assists in identifying peer coaches who can contribute to the organizational learning environment. 

Apart from the ones who are naturally disposed to coaching, organizations can also look at high-performing employees or those employees who show exceptional technical or power skills and coach them to become peer coaches. 

Managers can identify the potential coaches in their teams according to their skills and make them a part of the peer coaching network. Managers themselves can embark on a learning journey and take coaching to become good peer coaches. 

Read: Help your Leaders Transition to a Digital World – Start Peer Coaching Initiatives

Destigmatize asking for help

It is heartening to see that organizations are now paying close attention to their employee’s mental health. With the pandemic pushing employees towards burnout, the conversation around mental health and seeking help to alleviate stressors has become mainstream.

Seeking help has been stigmatized as a sign of weakness for the longest time and it is time to change that.

There are many who are still not sensitized to the unique challenges of their peers. Setting up a peer coaching culture helps in beating stigmas and creates a healthy work environment by educating people on the importance of mental health and the adverse impacts of poor mental health and burnout. Actively identifying toxic behaviors and addressing them, sends out a strong message, that only healthy habits that are conducive to the workplace shall be encouraged. 

Peer coaching helps people become more self-aware by providing contextual information. Since it is a continuous and non-judgmental process, people are more open to receiving feedback. The continuous nature of the program also makes sure that people can circle back to their coaches when they find themselves falling into unhealthy work patterns or ideologies. Proactive support provided by peer coaching makes sure that the behavioral change needed to destigmatize aging concepts is implemented and internalized. 

Promote continuous learning

To develop a peer coaching culture, organizations have to work towards developing a culture that promotes continuous learning. This ties in with the need of the times, where changing business dynamics, a rapidly evolving technology landscape, and the increasing focus on digital transformation demand new skill sets. What is clear is that the pace of change we are experiencing is only going to accelerate in the post-pandemic world. 

The needs of the hybrid workplace also demand the learning of new power skills and the unlearning of certain old methodologies. Organizations that offer avenues to improve their employee’s skill sets by helping them identify their learning needs using contextual data are more likely to see an invested, engaged, and productive workforce. 

Encouraging continuous learning also drives a peer coaching culture as then the workforce is motivated to lean in towards their coaches to seek guidance on how to best navigate their work environments and ensure that they can remain on a growth path. 

Lead by example

Peer coaching can play a big role in helping leaders develop and evolve their leadership styles to suit the hybrid work environment. Managers now have to evolve and become virtual leaders from remote bosses. It is time for organizational leaders to lead by example and leverage peer coaching and become peer coaches themselves to navigate the challenges of this hybrid workplace.

When employees see people of authority encouraging, seeking, and participating in peer coaching, it also prompts them to follow their example. The goal of peer coaching is to help each other find solutions and unlock an individual’s potential to maximize their performance. When employees across the organization see seniors taking the right steps to enhance their performance and learn new behaviors and skills to thrive in the hybrid workplace, they are also motivated to follow the same. The legitimacy that peer coaching gets from leadership involvement helps in establishing a strong peer coaching culture within the organization. 

In Conclusion

With no playbook telling us how to manage these challenging and inexperienced times, developing a peer coaching culture becomes imperative as we go back to work. The workforce today needs understanding, empathy, and support more than ever before to forge ahead in their career paths. Establishing a peer coaching culture in these times gives employees the support that they need to validate and activate knowledge, reduce work-related stressors, identify growth paths and avenues of improvement, and increase engagement. All of these factors contribute towards a healthy and resilient workforce- one that is completely ready to manage the upheavals and uncertainties that the future holds. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help you deliver a robust and thriving coaching culture across your organization.